Arts and Entertainment

What makes a beer green?

Murphy's, Ireland's alternative Guinness.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

Green beer is one of those things that immediately comes to mind around this time of year.

But what exactly is it that makes a beer green?

Here’s a hint: it’s not the bottle — and it’s not vials of green food-coloring that one adds to a glass of suds just to give it the impression of being Irish for the holiday.

“When I was growing up in this county, everybody did the green beer thing,” Silver City Restaurant and Brewery Brewmaster Don Spencer said. “I don’t know where that came from. I’d like to think that we’ve moved beyond that. ... Making your watered-down industrial American lager green is not going to make it taste any better or come any closer to the traditional Irish lager.”

It’s an aesthetic thing. Like how every year the city of Chicago floods its main river with green dye on March 17.

Spencer has spoken his piece on that concept for beer, and while he won’t supply green food coloring for Silver City patrons on St. Patrick’s Day, whether or not they choose to bring their own is up to them.

Instead, Silver City annually brews up it’s own Irish stout to fete the occasion, which this year Spencer has named after his new bride — Shannon’s Irish Stout.

While brewed at the Silver City lab in Silverdale, Shannon’s Irish Stout resembles the dark-roasted bews of Ireland — a “working man’s beer,” Spencer said, with a relatively low alcohol count but a light bodied richness and a thick, long-lasting head, best served from the tap.

The Silver City kitchen will also be using the seasonal stout to braze their corned-beef and cabbage entrees.

“It’s been a pretty standard beer over the last few years,” Spencer said. “We’ll have it for about two to three weeks and then it’s gone.”

Another March 17 standard that’s been around for ages and won’t likely be going anywhere anytime soon as the token saint of St. Patrick’s stouts is, of course, Guinness.

And while we could probably spend the rest of this article rapping about the rich and malty goodness of a good pint of Guinness, beer-drinkers reading with interest have likely already had that discussion and will likely have one or two Guinness beers this St. Patrick’s regardless.

So instead we’ll move onto a few other Irish-brewed options for celebration.

Rob Defilippo, co-owner of Tizley’s Europub in Poulsbo, said on personal preference, he’s not a big fan of the fat Irish stout. He prefers the more hoppy, easy-drinking Irish-brewed Smithwicks.

“And Jameson, always Jameson,” he said, referring to the famed Irish whiskey.

Smithwicks — which you can find at a few select places around Kitsap, including Tizleys — is the main traditional Irish brew, famed as Ireland’s oldest ale. It’s a red ale that’s been made in the country’s oldest operating brewery since the 18th century.

Smithwicks is lauded as Ireland’s third most popular beer — after the G-men and our final St. Patrick’s suggestion — Murphy’s Irish Stout.

Murphy’s traditional Irish Stout is Guinness’ main competitor. It has the same smooth and creamy texture with a bit less bitterness.

It’s been brewed in Ireland at Murphy’s Brewery since in 1856. Carrying a rabid Irish following, the stout hit its volume zenith in the United States around 1997 but has since declined.

Murphy’s is tough to find in Kitsap these days, but it’s available in the keg can at Tizleys.

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